Feb 3, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 20 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Election Day is almost nine months off. But right now Republicans seem almost certain to hold the House of Representatives and are likely to take the Senate. Which raises the inevitable question: How might the GOP seize defeat from the jaws of victory?
Two occasions stand out, two obvious obstacles ahead that could lead to disastrous Republican stumbles, two pitfalls on the path to a happy GOP Election Day. Republicans are pretty good at falling into such pits. One is the increase in the debt limit, which Congress will have to deal with in the next month or two. The other is immigration reform, which the Senate has passed and which awaits a decision from the House leadership on how to proceed.
Conservative activists tend to get excited at the prospect of a debt ceiling increase, since it allegedly gives them a rare moment of leverage over the president. There is already a conservative wish list of items that could be attached to the coming debt limit legislation. But as we saw in the somewhat analogous situation of the government shutdown in October, such leverage is often more theoretical than real, especially when you only control one house of Congress and are divided among yourselves in that chamber. With the country and the markets, egged on by the media, spooked by the threat of default, it’s not clear how much “leverage” House Republicans will really have.
So conservative activists should give up their fond hopes of a debt ceiling bonanza and more or less let the hike go through unscathed (they can still vote against it, of course). Conservatives will have plenty of opportunities to try to attach their favorite proposals to must-pass legislation in 2015, if they want to, under more politically favorable circumstances. Meanwhile, during 2014, conservatives certainly can and should aggressively advance freestanding legislative proposals, to repeal and delay parts of Obamacare, for instance, and they’ll be better off with a clean debate on such legislation free of the specter of default.
In return for making life easier on the debt ceiling for the House leadership, Speaker Boehner should make his own concession: He should announce that he will not bring any immigration legislation to the floor this session. If there’s one thing that could blow up GOP chances for a good 2014, it would be an explosive debate over immigration in the House. The only sure way to avoid such a debate is not to let anything onto the floor in the first place. Once even an innocuous-sounding measure gets passed, then the pressure to go to conference with the loathed Senate bill will be great. And whatever ultimately were to happen, activists would spend months worrying about and agitating against a betrayal by the leadership, business interests would spend months urging such a betrayal, and Republicans would be consumed by infighting and recriminations on an issue that does them no short-term political good. Bringing immigration to the floor insures a circular GOP firing squad, instead of a nicely lined-up one shooting together and in unison at Obamacare and other horrors of big government liberalism. Since there really is no need to act this year on immigration, don’t. Don’t even try.
In sum: With respect to the must-pass debt ceiling legislation, the House conservatives should let it pass. With respect to immigration reform, which isn’t must-pass, leadership should let it die. The guiding principle should be do no harm. This year, doing no harm requires both conservative activists and the GOP establishment to sacrifice something. So they should make a deal: No default in return for no amnesty. Such a deal should mean no GOP tears this November.
Jan 13, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 17 • By FRED BARNES
A White House official once noted that the problem with the national press corps is it can only keep one idea in its mind at a time. And while that’s often true, it’s not at the moment in regard to Republicans.
Today’s media line on the Republican party is it faces irreversible decline. That’s on the one hand. On the other, Republicans have a solid shot at capturing the Senate in the midterm elections in November, are all but certain to retain control of the House, and have reasonable prospects of winning the White House in 2016.
Hosted by Michael Graham.4:01 PM, Jan 2, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast, with executive editor Fred Barnes on why Obamacare will remain a major issue in 2014.
11:50 AM, Jan 2, 2014 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
Two days after Christmas I found myself in a doctor's office in New Jersey at eight o'clock in the morning. As I sat in the waiting room, a middle-aged woman came in and began a discussion with the receptionist. It seemed that her daughter, who would turn 26 on December 31, was trying to figure out what to do about health insurance.
Hosted by Michael Graham5:15 PM, Dec 9, 2013 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with staff writer Jay Cost on his recent cover story, The Battle of 2014 on the political landscape for the 2014 elections.
With the midterm elections less than a year away, the terrain looks surprisingly favorable for Republicans Dec 16, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 14 • By JAY COST
Regularly scheduled elections are a hallmark of the American political system. In 18th-century Britain, the monarch could call new elections on a whim, and our Founders saw in that arrangement a seed of tyranny. The Constitution they designed requires elections for Congress every two years, and the next such elections are less than a year away. This is good news for conservatives as they continue to oppose the Obama administration.
8:08 AM, Nov 26, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
Steve Hayes, with Mara Liasson and Charles Krauthammer, last night on Fox News:
5:42 PM, Nov 25, 2013 • By JERYL BIER
At a stop in San Francisco on a three-day fund raising swing along the West Coast, President Obama said during a speech that "sometimes people forget I'm not running for office again." The president was talking about Republicans in Congress and the immigration reform that he is trying to get through the House:
Populists versus elitists in the Republican party.Nov 18, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 10 • By FRED BARNES
The least interesting thing that happened in the odd-year election was Chris Christie’s reelection as governor of New Jersey. It was like a football game between Alabama and Vassar: A Republican governor with extraordinary political skills and an impressive record in his first term crushes a throwaway Democratic challenger in a blue state. This was totally expected, thus devoid of excitement or drama.
The New Jersey governor muscles his way to the front of the pack, for now. Nov 18, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 10 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
Morris Plains, N.J.
On election eve, Chris Christie has come home to rally a few hundred supporters in Morris County, the place where he was first elected and now lives with his wife, Mary Pat, and their four children.
8:11 AM, Oct 7, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
Only "essential" employees of the federal government are still working during the shutdown. And at the Federal Election Commission that means practically no one is coming one.
According to a report by the Center for Public Integrity, only 4 of the employees on the FEC's staff of 339 are working through the shutdown. That's because only those 4 are considered "essential."
8:01 AM, Sep 21, 2013 • By VICTORINO MATUS
"For the first time in this election I'm feeling nervous," one FDP member just confessed. And he should be. ZDF's final poll (Politbarometer) was released, and the race could not be tighter.
7:28 AM, Sep 20, 2013 • By VICTORINO MATUS
If you couldn't tell from all the red banners this was a far-left rally, you could probably tell by the smell. It was an earthy group consisting of various age groups and even more various hair dyes. They seem to like denim. And I think I've figured out how they managed to give their blue jeans that unwashed look.
8:25 AM, Sep 19, 2013 • By VICTORINO MATUS
In the late 18th century, the Germans built a casino in the town of Wiesbaden. It was the first of its kind. But considering the wealth of the surrounding area, it flourished. In fact, the casino is where Dostoyevsky lost a hefty amount and, according to town historian Patrick Walz, the author never paid up. Wiesbaden is also where a Free Democrat rally took place Wednesday evening. The FDP is gambling on a large turnout of its middle- and upper-middle-class supporters here, hoping to remain in power for another four years and hoping to keep its seats in the Bundestag. The economy is humming along. Unemployment is low. Most Germans could say they're better off now than they were four years ago. So why does everyone seem so anxious?